When Personal Computer Museum founder Syd Bolton got a call from Brantford's Ron Treverton, he admits he was a bit skeptical. "When anyone calls up and says they have a lot of stuff, my imagination kicks in" says Bolton. Over the years, everyone's idea of a "lot of stuff" has varied tremendously from hardly anything at all to "whoah, that's a lotta stuff".
After visiting Ron and seeing his collection (described by Ron as "5,000 discs and about 122 players") Bolton knew this was an incredible opportunity to go from having a handful of video discs to obtaining perhaps the largest collection in the world - in the blink of an eye.
Ron had amassed a huge collection of video discs, also known as "CED" discs which were the precursor to the laser disc. The video discs
are more like vinyl records (whereas laser discs are more like DVD's). The quality of the video is slightly better than VHS.
Doing some quick research revealed that there are just over 1,700 unique titles - so there must be some duplicates in this collection or some other explanation. Physically examining the collection did reveal duplicates and also what appeared to be some rarer titles. Ron also seemed quite fond of this size of media - there was also evidence of smaller collections of laser discs and record vinyl as well but nothing that even approached the scale and size of the CED collection.
Ron was interested in talking numbers on making a deal at first. Both parties separated to think about the final outcome of the transaction. Ron would be happy to see his collection (which took almost 30 years to acquire) go in the care of a museum, and Syd was happy to take on a huge collection of retro technology that fit perfectly alongside the museum's already extensive collection of computers and video games. In fact, it would be another feather in the cap of the museum, which already has the largest known collection of video games in Canada, and the largest known collection of computers. Now, this would be the largest known collection of video discs. It seemed like the perfect fit.
After some pondering and some negotation, a deal was finally struck. Now, how to get thousands of video discs and players to the museum. Fortunately, Ron's place is only around 5 KM from the museum which meant that multiple trips would be possible. Before even contemplating getting the discs, however, their transportation and storage had to be considered. Video discs are generally rugged but they are not to be stored flat. The weight of this can damage and warp the discs, therefore they must be stored vertically. Special sized boxes were ordered to store the discs after calculating approximately how many would be required. The weight of the full boxes was also a factor. It was determined that transporting the boxes half full and then filling the boxes to capacity at the storage site made the most sense.
On Friday, June 8, 2012 (coincidentally the same day as this newspaper article appeared) the transfer
of ownership officially took place. A team that included Jason, Robert, Adam, Alex, Gord, Dan and Syd headed out to pick up the discs.
After two full trips, the majority of the discs had been moved. It was also discovered that Ron had a decent collection of vinyl that included some Canadian classic bands like Rush and Max Webster as well as a small (2 dozen or so) laser discs. One interesting find was some smaller sized Karaoke laser discs.
The following morning saw a smaller team of Jeff, Dan #2 and Syd head back for two more trips. The first trip snagged the remaining video & laser discs
and started the process of grabbing all of the players. There are more than just video disc players here: there are laserdisc players and old
style top-loading VHS players as well. There's a bit of everything including some players brand new in the box.
The second and last trip (with the help of Scott) resulted in the reorganization of the boxes and players. Now the fun begins! The museum plans on launching a new website sometime in the future with all of the items that have been discovered and it will include additional information and be in true database form. Preserving this technology and all of the information related to it is very important to the museum.
If you'd like to help us archive this history, or have some video or laser discs that you would like to donate to help improve our
collection, please contact us. Movie nights at the museum are sure to never be the same again!